Oliver Stone Sounds Off to “Idiots” in Showbiz, Doc “Nuclear Now”

Oliver Stone settled into a sofa on the terrace of the Radisson Blu hotel in Cluj, Romania, apologizing for the jet lag and gazing at a downcast sky that briefly parted over the Transylvania hill . “Let’s see if we can find some blue,” he said, describing himself – despite plenty of evidence to the contrary – as a “hopeful” person. But after a week of steady showers in this picturesque medieval town, the weather refused to cooperate. From the hotel terrace, it was gray as far as the eye could see.

Stone was in Romania to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Transilvania Film Festival, which also programmed a small retrospective honoring the three-time Oscar-winning director, including his latest film, the pro-nuclear energy documentary “Nuclear Now, ” Who VarietyOwen Gleiberman describes it as an “intensely gripping, must-see” documentary after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival last year.

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Before receiving the award, Stone sat down with Variety to discuss Hollywood’s longstanding resistance to nuclear power, from scaremongering films such as “The China Syndrome” and “Silkwood” to the horror schlock of the 1950s, including giant irradiated insects and clouds mushrooms tapped into the subconscious fears of Americans in the nuclear age.

While it is difficult to characterize these fears as misplaced after the horrors of Hiroshima, Stone nevertheless insists that nuclear energy has been unjustly vilified and argues that it is not only clean, plentiful and safe, but perhaps humanity’s best hope for avoiding the impending climate. disaster. “I like nuclear. You can eat it for breakfast,” he said. “But they don’t like nuclear energy [in Hollywood] because nuclear power scares them.

The director described the process of creating “Nuclear Now” as a “fuckin’ bullet breaker beyond belief”, after being repeatedly turned down by anyone listening to his speech. “It was rejected. It was rejected at birth,” he said. “No funding. No company wanted to do it. No Netflix. It’s crazy.” (In an appearance with festival-goers the next morning, Stone went on to say, “Showbiz people are idiots. They just follow the trend, they just follow the fashion — it’s a fashion business.”)

Stone has spent much of the past decade on the fringes of the film industry, though he insists he harbors no ill will towards Tinseltown. “I did well in the trade,” he said. “I always survived.”

That’s perhaps an unusual understatement for a notoriously outspoken director who, during a torrid run in filmmaking in the 1980s and 90s, was one of our most essential filmmakers, with a string of critical acclaim. and commercials, including “Platoon”, “Wall Street”, “Natural Born Killers” and “Born on the 4th of July”.

However, none of his films in recent years have had quite the same impact. Whether Stone is out of touch is debatable, but he’s nonetheless by his own admission baffled by the pop culture zeitgeist.

“I saw ‘John Wick 4’ on the plane. Talk about volume. I think the movie is disgusting beyond belief. Disgusting. I don’t know what people think,” he said. he said, “Maybe I watched ‘GI Joe’ when I was a kid. But [Keanu Reeves] kill, what, three, four hundred people in this fucking movie. And as a combat veteran, I have to tell you that none of them are believable. I know it’s a movie, but it became more of a video game than a movie.

The stone was not made. “It’s a loss of touch with reality. The public may love video games. But it bothers me,” he continued. How many cars can crash? How many stunts can you do? What’s the difference between ‘Fast and Furious’ and another movie? It’s just one thing after another. “A superhuman Marvel character or just a human being like John Wick, it makes no difference. It’s not believable.”

If that sounds like sour grapes from the 76-year-old director, however, Stone says he’s “not complaining.” “I made 20 feature films. I might do 21 before I leave. That would be good,” he said. “I have one in mind but I’m not going to tell you what it is.”

Maybe Stone is frustrated with the studio system, maybe that system has grown weary of his increasingly cantankerous takes. (“As I got older, I got angrier, not less,” he said. “I was a conventional boy. I wanted to be liked. But I realized I couldn’t be liked.” ) In recent years, the director has instead found a platform for his often polarizing political views with documentaries such as “JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass,” “The Putin Interviews,” and “Snowden.”

Stone cut his teeth at a time when independent American cinema was booming, long before the $200 million rise in CGI-fueled comic book blockbusters with advertising costs to rival the GDP of a small island nation. “When they’re making movies now, they want to think about how we market it, who’s going to watch it? Of course that’s a consideration. But that becomes the only consideration,” he said. you really have to have bigger and bigger hits, which ruins the business because it increases the margins, and of course it increases the cost of the film.”

Sixteen years ago, Stone was about to direct his highly anticipated drama about the My Lai massacre, “Pinkville,” when production was halted by the latest writers’ strike; the film was later dropped by United Artists. Asked about the current strike, the director spared no effort.

“The studio was always saying, ‘We’re losing money.’ They always lose money. You can never make money if you follow their standards,” he said.

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